If you end a relationship with a narcissist and cut off all contact, they may view it as a blow to their self-esteem.
As a result, they may ignore your no-contact boundary and try to make you feel guilty.
A psychologist said ignoring their attempts and blocking them where possible is the best strategy.
If you end a relationship with a true narcissist, someone who has an extremely heightened sense of self-importance, they won't take it well and will likely ignore any boundaries you set.
According to Craig Malkin, a psychologist and author of "Rethinking Narcissism," narcissists view relationship dissolution as a sign their exceptional status is declining. As a result, they may try to prove your decision was wrong or place the blame on the other person in the relationship. Even if the narcissist ended the relationship, they could act out in similar ways, since their underlying thinking is the same, said Malkin.
"It still creates the same problem of, 'If you're not thinking about me, and I'm not occurring to you as important in your life, maybe I'm not important at all,'" Malkin said, adding that relationship dissolution could be "activating the worthlessness" a narcissist has internalized.
If you find yourself in a situation where you want a narcissist out of your life, but they always seem to make an appearance, stick to your boundaries and try to understand why they're acting this way.
A narcissist's reactions to no contact depend on the type they embody
Some narcissists move on as if they never knew you after a relationship ends. Malkin said this could be the case for a grandiose narcissists, which he calls "extroverted" narcissists because they view their charm and external successes as proof they're better than others.
"It actually sustains their self-inflated view to affirm that they really don't need you that much," Malkin said. But a grandiose narcissist could also have a strong reaction to a no-contact rule.
Malkin said they may view a no-contact boundary as an "injury" to themselves, and spiral into thinking, "How could you possibly not want anything to do with me anymore? How could you possibly not be thinking about me anymore?"
They might ramp up their attempts to contact you because of this thinking, according to Malkin.
Vulnerable narcissists, which Malkin calls "introverted" because they typically keep their self-centeredness to themselves versus aggressively pursuing special treatment, may also keep contacting you despite attempts to cut them off. But they're more likely to lean into victimization than extroverted narcissists are, Malkin said.
They'll say things like, "No one has suffered as much as me, and certainly no one in this relationship has suffered as much as me," in an attempt to guilt-trip you into bending to their desires for attention.
"There's a continuing dynamic where you're reminded of the hurt that you caused," Malkin said.
The best response is no response, according to a psychologist who works with narcissists
Though it can be difficult to disengage from an unrelenting narcissists, Malkin said staying firm in your no-contact boundary is the most effective approach.
Every time you engage with a narcissist you told you were cutting off for good, you reinforce their entitled thinking. Instead Malkin tells his clients who have had relationships with narcissists to block their social media accounts, emails, and phone numbers.
"They're in a panic now, and all they're doing is reaching out in fear. It's not really even about you," he said.
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